Political science is a social science discipline
concerned with the study of the state, nation, government, and politics and policies of government.
Aristotle defined it as the study of the state. It deals extensively with the theory and practice
of politics, and the analysis of political systems, political behavior, and political
culture. Political scientists “see themselves engaged in revealing the relationships underlying
political events and conditions, and from these revelations they attempt to construct
general principles about the way the world of politics works.” Political science intersects
with other fields; including economics, law, sociology, history, anthropology, public administration,
public policy, national politics, international relations, comparative politics, psychology,
political organization, and political theory. Although it was codified in the 19th century,
when all the social sciences were established, political science has ancient roots; indeed,
it originated almost 2,500 years ago with the works of Plato and Aristotle.
Political science is commonly divided into distinct sub-disciplines which together constitute
the field: political theory
comparative politics public administration
international relations public law
political methodology Political theory is more concerned with contributions
of various classical thinkers such as Aristotle, Niccolò Machiavelli, Cicero, Plato and many
others. Comparative politics is the science of comparison and teaching of different types
of constitutions, political actors, legislature and associated fields, all of them from an
intrastate perspective. International relations deals with the interaction between nation-states
as well as intergovernmental and transnational organizations.
Political science is methodologically diverse and appropriates many methods originating
in social research. Approaches include positivism, interpretivism, rational choice theory, behavioralism,
structuralism, post-structuralism, realism, institutionalism, and pluralism. Political
science, as one of the social sciences, uses methods and techniques that relate to the
kinds of inquiries sought: primary sources such as historical documents and official
records, secondary sources such as scholarly journal articles, survey research, statistical
analysis, case studies, experimental research and model building. Overview
Political scientists study matters concerning the allocation and transfer of power in decision
making, the roles and systems of governance including governments and international organizations,
political behavior and public policies. They measure the success of governance and specific
policies by examining many factors, including stability, justice, material wealth, peace
and public health. Some political scientists seek to advance positive theses by analyzing
politics. Others advance normative theses, by making specific policy recommendations.
Political scientists provide the frameworks from which journalists, special interest groups,
politicians, and the electorate analyze issues. According to Chaturvedy, “…Political scientists
may serve as advisers to specific politicians, or even run for office as politicians themselves.
Political scientists can be found working in governments, in political parties or as
civil servants. They may be involved with non-governmental organizations or political
movements. In a variety of capacities, people educated and trained in political science
can add value and expertise to corporations. Private enterprises such as think tanks, research
institutes, polling and public relations firms often employ political scientists.” In the
United States, political scientists known as “Americanists” look at a variety of data
including constitutional development, elections, public opinion and public policy such as Social
Security reform, foreign policy, US Congressional committees, and the US Supreme Court —
to name only a few issues. “As a discipline” political science, possibly
like the social sciences as a whole, “lives on the fault line between the ‘two cultures’
in the academy, the sciences and the humanities.” Thus, in some American colleges where there
is no separate School or College of Arts and Sciences per se, political science may be
a separate department housed as part of a division or school of Humanities or Liberal
Arts. Whereas classical political philosophy is primarily defined by a concern for Hellenic
and Enlightenment thought, political scientists are also marked by a great concern for “modernity”
and the contemporary nation state, along with the study of classical thought, and as such
share a greater deal of terminology with sociologists. Most United States colleges and universities
offer B.A. programs in political science. M.A. or M.A.T. and Ph.D. or Ed.D. programs
are common at larger universities. The term political science is more popular in North
America than elsewhere; other institutions, especially those outside the United States,
see political science as part of a broader discipline of political studies, politics,
or government. While political science implies use of the scientific method, political studies
implies a broader approach, although the naming of degree courses does not necessarily reflect
their content. Separate degree granting programs in international relations and public policy
are not uncommon at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Master’s level programs
in political science are common when political scientists engage in public administration.
The national honor society for college and university students of government and politics
in the United States is Pi Sigma Alpha. Modern political science
Because political science is essentially a study of human behavior, in all aspects of
politics, observations in controlled environments are often challenging to reproduce or duplicate,
though experimental methods are increasingly common. Citing this difficulty, former American
Political Science Association President Lawrence Lowell once said “We are limited by the impossibility
of experiment. Politics is an observational, not an experimental science.” Because of this,
political scientists have historically observed political elites, institutions, and individual
or group behavior in order to identify patterns, draw generalizations, and build theories of
politics. Like all social sciences, political science
faces the difficulty of observing human actors that can only be partially observed and who
have the capacity for making conscious choices unlike other subjects such as non-human organisms
in biology or inanimate objects as in physics. Despite the complexities, contemporary political
science has progressed by adopting a variety of methods and theoretical approaches to understanding
politics and methodological pluralism is a defining feature of contemporary political
science. Often in contrast with national media, political science scholars seek to compile
long-term data and research on the impact of political issues, producing in-depth articles
breaking down the issues The advent of political science as a university
discipline was marked by the creation of university departments and chairs with the title of political
science arising in the late 19th century. In fact, the designation “political scientist”
is typically for those with a doctorate in the field. Integrating political studies of
the past into a unified discipline is ongoing, and the history of political science has provided
a rich field for the growth of both normative and positive political science, with each
part of the discipline sharing some historical predecessors. The American Political Science
Association was founded in 1903 and the American Political Science Review was founded in 1906
in an effort to distinguish the study of politics from economics and other social phenomena.
Behavioral revolution and new institutionalism In the 1950s and the 1960s, a behavioral revolution
stressing the systematic and rigorously scientific study of individual and group behavior swept
the discipline. A focus on studying political behavior, rather than institutions or interpretation
of legal texts, characterized early behavioral political science, including work by Robert
Dahl, Philip Converse, and in the collaboration between sociologist Paul Lazarsfeld and public
opinion scholar Bernard Berelson. The late 1960s and early 1970s witnessed a
take off in the use of deductive, game theoretic formal modeling techniques aimed at generating
a more analytical corpus of knowledge in the discipline. This period saw a surge of research
that borrowed theory and methods from economics to study political institutions, such as the
United States Congress, as well as political behavior, such as voting. William H. Riker
and his colleagues and students at the University of Rochester were the main proponents of this
shift. Despite considerable research progress in
the discipline based on all the kinds of scholarship discussed above, it has been observed that
progress toward systematic theory has been modest and uneven.
Political science in the Soviet Union In the Soviet Union, political studies were
carried out under the guise of some other disciplines like theory of state and law,
area studies, international relations, studies of labor movement, “critique of bourgeois
theories”, etc. Soviet scholars were represented at the International Political Science Association
since 1955. In 1979, the 11th World Congress of IPSA took
place in Moscow. Until the late years of the Soviet Union, political science as a field
was subjected to tight control of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and was thus subjected
to distrust. Anti-communists accused political scientists of being “false” scientists and
of having served the old regime. After the fall of the Soviet Union, two of
the major institutions dealing with political science, the Institute of Contemporary Social
Theories and the Institute of International Affairs, were disbanded, and most of their
members were left without jobs. These institutes were victims of the first wave of anticommunist
opinion and ideological attacks. Today, the Russian Political Science Association unites
professionals-political scientists from in Russia.
Recent developments In 2000, the Perestroika Movement in political
science was introduced as a reaction against what supporters of the movement called the
mathematicization of political science. Those who identified with the movement argued for
a plurality of methodologies and approaches in political science and for more relevance
of the discipline to those outside of it. Evolutionary psychology theories argue that
humans have evolved a highly developed set of psychological mechanisms for dealing with
politics. However, these mechanisms evolved for dealing with the small group politics
that characterized the ancestral environment and not the much larger political structures
in today’s world. This is argued to explain many important features and systematic cognitive
biases of current politics. Subfields
Most political scientists work broadly in one or more of the following five areas:
Comparative politics, including area studies International relations
Political philosophy e.g. Political ethics Public administration
Public law Some political science departments also classify
methodology as well as scholarship on the domestic politics of a particular country
as distinct sub fields. In the United States, American politics is often treated as a separate
subfield. In contrast to this traditional classification,
some academic departments organize scholarship into thematic categories, including political
philosophy, political behavior, and political institutions. Political science conferences
and journals often emphasize scholarship in more specific categories. The American Political
Science Association, for example, has 42 organized sections that address various methods and
topics of political inquiry. History See also
Outline of political science – structured list of political topics, arranged by subject
area Index of politics articles – alphabetical
list of political subjects Political lists – lists of political topics
Outline of law Index of law articles
Process tracing References Further reading
The Evolution of Political Science. APSR Centennial Volume of American Political Science Review.
Apsanet.org. 4 February 2009. European Political Processes: Essays and Readings.
[Compiled and] ed., with original essays, by Henry S. Albinski [and] Lawrence K. Pettit.
Boston: Allyn and Bacon. vii, 448 p. Goodin, R. E.; Klingemann, Hans-Dieter. A
New Handbook of Political Science. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN
0-19-829471-9. Klingemann, Hans-Dieter, ed. The State of
Political Science in Western Europe. Opladen: Barbara Budrich Publishers. ISBN 978-3-86649-045-1.
Schramm, S. F.; Caterino, B., eds.. Making Political Science Matter: Debating Knowledge,
Research, and Method. New York and London: New York University Press. Making Political
Science Matter. Google Books. 4 February 2009. Roskin, M.; Cord, R. L.; Medeiros, J. A.;
Jones, W. S.. Political Science: An Introduction. 10th ed. New York: Pearson Prentice Hall.
ISBN 978-0-13-242575-9. ISBN 978-0-13-242575-9. Tausch, A.; Prager, F.. Towards a Socio-Liberal
Theory of World Development. Basingstoke: Macmillan; New York: St. Martin’s Press.
Oxford Handbooks of Political Science Noel, Hans “Ten Things Political Scientists
Know that You Don’t” The Forum: Vol. 8: Iss. 3, Article 12.
Zippelius, Reinhold. Geschichte der Staatsideen, 10th ed. Munich: C.H. Beck. ISBN 3-406-49494-3.
Zippelius, Reinhold. Allgemeine Staatslehre, Politikwissenschaft,16th ed. Munich: C.H.
Beck. ISBN 978-3-406-60342-6. External links
European Consortium for Political Research International Political Science Association
International Studies Association IPSAPortal : Top 300 websites for Political
Science International Association for Political Science
Students American Political Science Association
Midwest Political Science Association Graduate Institute of International and Development
Studies. “Political Science Department which offers MA and PhD programmes”
Dalmacio Negro, Political Science Emeritus Professor at CEU San Pablo University, Madrid
Political Studies Association of the UK PROL: Political Science Research Online
Truman State University Political Science Research Design Handbook
A New Nation Votes: American Elections Returns 1787–1825
Comparative Politics in Argentina & Latin America: Site dedicated to the development
of comparative politics in Latin America. Introduction to Political Science Video
Library Guides to Political Science Library. “Political Science”. Research Guides.
USA: University of Michigan. Bodleian Libraries. “Political Science”. LibGuides.
UK: University of Oxford. Library. “Politics Research Guide”. LibGuides.
New Jersey, USA: Princeton University. Libraries. “Political Science”. Research Guides.
New York, USA: Syracuse University. University Libraries. “Political Science”.
Research Guides. USA: Texas A&M University.